Pep Guardiola thinks Manchester City’s second-half display against United may be the best his team have EVER played after thrashing rivals 4-1 at the Etihad
- Pep Guardiola said his side played near-faultless football at the Etihad on Sunday
- His Manchester City outfit thrashed fierce local rivals Manchester United 4-1
- The first half was competitive but the hosts pulled away in the second period
- And Guardiola admitted it may be the best he has ever seen his players perform
The knives were quickly sharpened in the Sky Sports studio, with Manchester United branded ‘shameful’ for ‘giving up’ at the Etihad Stadium.
Roy Keane and Gary Neville tore into United. ‘Throwing in the towel,’ said Keane. Neville added: ‘Finished like an absolute shower.’
But Pep Guardiola wanted to shift the narrative and point out Manchester City were quite good, too, as they went six points clear of Liverpool and widened the gap to United to 22.
Pep Guardiola (above) has admitted his Manchester City side’s second half performance against Manchester United in the derby on Sunday may be the best his side have ever played
In not allowing United a shot after half-time and boasting an eye-watering 92 per cent possession for 15 minutes in the second period, they blitzed their beleaguered visitors rather than the beleaguered visitors beating themselves.
Guardiola was asked to assess the positives of thumping their rivals despite City not being at their best. ‘If the second half is not our best, I don’t know what we have to do,’ he said. ‘I’m so demanding but I know my limits and I know the players’ limits.
‘United were eight games without defeat. I am the biggest critic of my team but when we play good, we play good, and second half we were really good. We should have scored more goals.’
United had won on their previous trip to City, this time last year, but Guardiola added: ‘The truth is that when we’ve lost to them, we were already champions.’
The Premier League leaders thrashed United 4-1 at the Etihad on Sunday in a strong showing
His assertion appeared to be that the only meaningful defeat United have inflicted on his team in six years was here in December 2019, on the way to Liverpool lifting the title.
The City manager expected his protagonists, such as two-goal Kevin De Bruyne, to step up, whereas the pundits anticipated United’s would hide.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani were unfit, according to Ralf Rangnick. ‘I cannot force a player to play if he doesn’t feel fit enough,’ he snapped, adding that Ronaldo’s hip injury had surfaced on Friday morning.
The players he picked provoked anger from the United legends, though. ‘The worst thing you can say about United is that they gave up,’ fumed Keane. ‘To give up is unforgivable, really. They threw the towel in and that’s shameful. Five or six of them should never play for Manchester United again.
Red Devils interim boss Ralf Rangnick (pictured), however, denied his players stopped trying
‘Who’s running that dressing room? These guys seem more bothered about, ‘How am I looking? How’s my hair looking? Are my boots nice?’ You leave your ego at the door when you play for Man United.
‘The United fans are not daft. They’re watching their team and seeing they’re not fighting. There are no excuses.’
Rangnick flatly disagreed as United slipped out of the top four. ‘I didn’t have the impression that they didn’t try,’ he said. ‘It’s difficult when you’re 3-1 down. City are the best team on the ball on the planet.
‘After 28 games, we’re as far apart from each team as the table shows. They deserved to win. It was impossible to keep them away from our goal in the second half. I’m happy with the players we have. We don’t always play City.’